Morgan v. Dzurenda

Citation956 F.3d 84
Decision Date15 April 2020
Docket NumberAugust Term, 2019,Docket No. 18-2888
Parties Lloyd George MORGAN, Jr., Appellant, v. James E. DZURENDA, Commissioner, individual and official capacity, Scott Semple, Deputy Commissioner, individual and official capacity, Angel Quiros, District Administrator-North, individual and official capacity, Karl Lewis, Director of Offender Classification, individual and official capacity, Christine Whidden, Warden, individual and official capacity, Carol Chapdelaine, Correctional Officer, individual and official capacity, Edward Maldonado, Warden, individual and official capacity, Gary Wright, Deputy Warden of Operation, individual and official capacity, Sandra Barone, Deputy Warden of Programs and Treatment, individual and official capacity, McCormick, Administrative Captain, individual and official capacity, K. Godding, Unit Manager Captain, individual and official capacity, Captain Manning, Unit Manager Captain, individual and official capacity, Jeanott, 1st Shift Commander Captain, Lizon, Lieutenant, individual and official capacity, Maldonado, Correctional Officer, individual and official capacity, Lindsey, Correctional Officer, individual and official capacity, Clayton, Correctional Officer, individual and official capacity, Torres, Correctional Officer, individual and official capacity, Gonzalez, Correctional Officer, individual and official capacity, Leiper, Correctional Officer, individual and official capacity, ULM, Correctional Officer, individual and official capacity, Defendants-Appellees.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)

SHERWIN M. YODER, Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP (James K. Robertson, Jr., on the brief), New Haven, CT for Plaintiff-Appellant.

ZENOBIA GRAHAM-DAYS, Assistant Attorney General, for William Tong, Attorney General, Hartford, CT, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: CALABRESI, POOLER, and PARK, Circuit Judges.

POOLER, Circuit Judge:

Lloyd George Morgan, Jr. appeals from the August 28, 2018 judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Bolden, J. ) granting summary judgment to defendants in his lawsuit brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Morgan’s lawsuit alleged that his Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was violently assaulted by a fellow inmate while imprisoned, and that defendants acted with deliberate indifference to his safety. Morgan v. Dzurenda , No. 3:14-cv-00966, 2018 WL 4096630 (D. Conn. Aug. 28, 2018). We agree with Morgan that he adduced sufficient evidence to raise a question of material fact on his Eighth Amendment claims against Captain Kyle Godding and Warden Carol Chapdelaine. We affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the remaining defendants.

BACKGROUND

Prior to his release from custody in December 2017, Morgan served time in a variety of facilities in Connecticut. As relevant to this lawsuit, in July 2013 Morgan was transferred from the Garner Correctional Institution to the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution ("CRCI"). While at CRCI, Morgan cooperated with the correctional officers about various gang activity at the prison, developing a reputation as a snitch. In November 2013, Morgan was transferred to the Osborn Correctional Institution.

Morgan averred that "[i]mmediately upon arrival at Osborn, [he] was threatened and harassed by inmates for being a ‘snitch’ and a homosexual," and that he "feared for [his] safety." App’x at 264 ¶ 18. On November 14, 2013, Morgan submitted an Inmate Request Form to defendant Godding, stating (1) Morgan had worked with prison intelligence officials while imprisoned at CRCI; (2) an Osborn inmate, Gabriel Rodriguez, had called Morgan a snitch and threatened to "beat [Morgan] real badly and snap [his] neck for being a ‘snitch’ and a ‘homo;’ " (3) Rodriguez was a member of the Los Solidos gang; and (4) Morgan feared Rodriguez would harm him. App’x at 265 ¶ 19. Morgan also averred that he verbally conveyed his worries about his safety to Godding on at least three occasions. He stated that Godding did not take his concerns seriously, telling Morgan to "stop being a snitch," "learn to fight like a man," and that Morgan should "stop being Lt. Columbo." App’x at 265 ¶¶ 21-23.

On December 2, 2013, Morgan submitted an Inmate Request Form to Chapdelaine, Osborn’s warden. Morgan asked Chapdelaine for help, explaining that he had "been constantly threatened with harm" by Rodriguez, that Rodriguez called him "a snitch a CI and a homo," and that Morgan had asked Godding for help, to no avail. App’x at 283. Morgan wrote that he was "extremely afraid" Rodriguez would make good on his threats. App’x at 283. Morgan averred that between December 2, 2013 and January 5, 2014, he repeated his concerns to Chapdelaine verbally when she toured his cell block. During that conversation, Chapdelaine acknowledged receiving Morgan’s Inmate Request Form.

On the evening of January 5, 2014, corrections officers Maritza Maldonado and Jeremy Lindsay were working the second shift in Morgan’s cell block. Shortly after they came on shift, Morgan told both that he "had been threatened by Inmate Rodriguez," "feared for [his] safety" and "was specifically concerned about recreation time." App’x at 266 ¶ 29. "Hours later," Morgan was let out of his cell for recreation, and went to the shower around 8:15 p.m. App’x at 266 ¶¶ 30, 31. Rodriguez was there, with another person, and began threatening Morgan, calling him a "snitch." App’x at 267 ¶ 32. Rodriguez threatened to steal Morgan’s property, and then beat Morgan, choking him and repeatedly striking him in the head and face. Morgan called out "C.O.! C.O.!" hoping to get the attention of a corrections officer. App’x at 267 ¶ 35. No one came to Morgan’s aid, and Rodriguez choked him so hard that Morgan could no longer scream.

Afterward, Morgan reported the assault to Maldonado, telling her that he "had been beaten by the very person [he had] warned her would hurt [him], namely, Inmate Rodriguez." App’x at 267 ¶ 37. Morgan averred that Maldonado was dismissive of his claims and failed to call in an emergency code or lock down the unit. An investigation by the prison resulted in Rodriguez being disciplined for assaulting Morgan.

Morgan brought this action pro se against 21 employees of the Connecticut Department of Correction, alleging numerous claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as a variety of state law claims. As the litigation progressed, various claims were dismissed. As relevant here, what remained were only the Eighth Amendment claims of deliberate indifference against defendants Chapdelaine, Godding, Maldonado, and Lindsay, along with state law claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the remaining defendants. At that point, the district court appointed counsel to represent Morgan, and defendants moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motion with respect to the federal claims, and dismissed the state law claims without prejudice, declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. Morgan v. Dzurenda , No. 3:14-cv-00966, 2018 WL 4096630 (D. Conn. Aug. 28, 2018). This appeal followed.

DISCUSSION

"We review a district court’s grant of summary judgment de novo ." Brandon v. Kinter , 938 F.3d 21, 31 (2d Cir. 2019). "Summary judgment may be granted only if the court concludes that the case presents no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Id . (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "A genuine issue exists—and summary judgment is therefore improper—where the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could decide in the non-movant’s favor." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "In reviewing the district court’s grant of summary judgment, we must construe the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and must resolve all ambiguities and draw all reasonable inferences against the movant." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of "[c]ruel and unusual punishments" on those convicted of crimes, which includes punishments that "involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain." Gregg v. Georgia , 428 U.S. 153, 173, 178, 96 S.Ct. 2909, 49 L.Ed.2d 859 (1976) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to "take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates." Farmer v. Brennan , 511 U.S. 825, 832, 114 S.Ct. 1970, 128 L.Ed.2d 811 (1994) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). That extends to "protect[ing] prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners." Id. at 833, 114 S.Ct. 1970 (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Fischl v. Armitage , 128 F.3d 50, 55 (2d Cir. 1997) ("The Eighth Amendment ... imposes on prison officials a duty ... to protect prisoners from violence at the hands of other prisoners." (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

Pursuant to Farmer , an inmate seeking to establish an Eighth Amendment violation for failure to protect or deliberate indifference to safety must prove (1) "that [the plaintiff] is incarcerated under conditions posing a substantial risk of serious harm," and (2) that the prison official had a "sufficiently culpable state of mind," which in "prison-conditions cases" is "one of deliberate indifference to inmate health or safety." Id. at 834, 114 S.Ct. 1970 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

The "deliberate indifference standard embodies both an objective and a subjective prong." Hathaway v. Coughlin , 37 F.3d 63, 66 (2d Cir. 1994). "First, the alleged deprivation must be, in objective terms, sufficiently serious." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "Second, the charged official must act with a sufficiently culpable state of mind." Id. "Deliberate indifference requires more than negligence, but...

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